Thursday, September 08, 2011

"Scant evidence that he (Steven Woods) killed anyone" says Austin Chronicle

The Austin Chronicle says there is "scant evidence" that Steven Woods killed anyone. He is scheduled for execution in Texas under Governor Rick Perry on Sept 13. This is a case that likely would have a high chance for a commutation to life in other death penalty states, since the physical evidence does not indicate that the person being executed actually killed anyone while there is clear evidence linking his co-defendant as the killer.
"Unless the U.S. Supreme Court steps in to stop it – or the Board of Pardons and Paroles recommends and the governor grants clemency (a remote chance) – inmate Steven Woods will be put to death Sept. 13, even though there is scant evidence suggesting that he actually killed anyone. Woods was sentenced to death for a 2001 double murder in The Colony, near Dallas. After his conviction, a co-defendant, Marcus Rhodes, made a deal with prosecutors, pleading guilty in exchange for two life sentences. Nonetheless, while there was clear physical evidence linking Rhodes to the crime, there was no such evidence linking Woods. "There is no physical proof linking him to the crime," says attorney Alex Calhoun, who has represented Woods on appeal and who has filed a clemency petition with the parole board, seeking to have Woods' sentence commuted to life. That would be far more equitable, he argues; while that is a good argument against sending Woods to death, it's been the argument in two out of the three cases in which the board has recommended clemency under the leadership of Gov. Rick Perry. Perry only granted clemency in one of those (that of Kenneth Foster), and he said he did so because Foster and a co-defendant had a shared trial, not because Foster literally was not guilty of killing anyone.
Meanwhile, Brad Levenson, director of the state's Office of Capital Writs, responsible for representing indigent death row inmates on appeal, late last week filed a final appeal in Woods' case. In the appeal, Levenson argues that Calhoun rendered ineffective assistance when he failed to pursue in a timely manner evidence that one of Woods' jurors was so biased that his presence on the jury violated Woods' right to an impartial panel. (Should the ineffective assistance claim fail, Levenson argues that the presence of the juror alone should render the Woods verdict unsound.) The appeal comes on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court announcing that it would hear two cases this fall that relate to the right to effective counsel on appeal. Whether Texas courts will see fit to stay Woods' execution until the high court has an opportunity to weigh in on the topic remains to be seen."

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BillboTex said...

I bet this comment doesn't get posted!

Woods attorney approved ALL jurors - appeal denied!

I would be willing to halt the execution if Rhodes failed a lie detector exam that Woods participated in the murder, AND if Woods also passed an exam that he DID NOT participate in the murder. Both exams, one failed, one passed, REQUIRED. Decision final. No subsequent appeal allowed. Death or life sentence carried out IMMEDIATELY, based only on the two exam results!

I got a good feeling that Woods would not agree with that, so I don't agree with the commutation of his death sentence without those two exams. What Woods is looking for is ESCAPE, NOT VENDICATION!
I will check back to see if you post my comment, or you a coward like Woods.

wenona said...

Billbo Tex: The evidence in the case is insufficient in proving Woods' guilt. There are many cases where a jury in a trial was moved not by evidence but by emotion and were wrong. Woods' co-defendant has already been given two life sentences and he is the one that actually did the killing according to evidence! So tell me, "Tex", if you are standing in a room and your friend kills someone in that room while you are there, should you get put to death while he gets to live? That is what is happening with Woods.

Leigh Patrick said...

Based on what you said, would you then be in favor of a stay of execution (at the very least), to allow more time to explore the possibility of administering lie detector tests?
Steven Woods isn't looking for escape. He's looking to have his sentence commuted to life, which could be a VERY long time for a 31 yr old man.
If there is even an iota of doubt about his guilt, shouldn't we as civilized AMERICAN citizens, give it one more look to be sure that we aren't guilty of the crime (of murder) that Marcus Rhodes was charged with and Steven as his accomplice? I know that I don't want to be an accomplice to murder! Do you?

Anonymous said...

Too bad you're unaware of the fact that polygraph tests are inadmissible in court. womp womp. stop making stuff up little buddy

Anonymous said...

Just because You say Mr. Woods would refuse a lie detector exam, doesn't mean it's true. Youdon't find the fact that Rhodes already admitted to murdering said victims, and also saying that Woods did not, to be valid? How about the lack of DNA and fingerprint evidence proving Woods is responsible? How about the fingerprint and DNA evidence that proves Rhodes did it, as he said he did? Interesting. Sounds like you aren't interested in fact.

Lisa O'Brien said...

Investigative journalism isn't what it used to be. It's obvious in this an a lot of cases that "journalists" are now parroting defense attorney press releases rather than examining the cases on which they report for themselves.

Had the journalist done a little homework, he or she would have seen from the appellate opinions in the case that the jury had Woods' numerous admissions to the murders from several witnesses. Rhodes plea is based on the fact that he provided the vehicle and the weapons and knew the murders were going to be committed when he accompanied Woods that night. The plan to kill Bethena and Ron was Woods' plan, not Rhodes. Prior to Bethena and Ron's murders, Rhodes carried out Woods' murder of Beau Saunders in California. Rhodes was a pawn, not the mastermind. That was Steven Woods.

Lisa O'Brien said...

Fifth Circuit opinion:

Anonymous said...

Would love to see a copy of the decision of the appeal...So you would like to determine the fate of all death row inmates on the basis of a polygraph with an immediate execution to follow. This is not due process...

Eubanks said...

Well, your comment was posted. Circumventing the appeals process, which is part of the legal process, should never happen. Steven will die on the 13th. He does not have any judicial appeal issues left. This is how the system works and thank God. Some people say we should execute drunk drivers. I bet there are those who think stupidity or ignorance are worthy of death. Improper spelling and grammar are, in fact signs of both.